WINGED WORDS: American Indian Writers Speak by Laura Coltelli

WINGED WORDS: American Indian Writers Speak

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Interviews with 11 leading Native American novelists and poets, conducted with a light hand by Coltelli (American Literature/Univ. of Pisa). Although Coltelli rarely challenges her subjects during the talks (most held in 1985), she does offer useful prefaces to each, and a brief but knowledgeable general introduction that sets the interviews neatly within their historical/cultural context (e.g., by noting that of her 11 subjects, six are women: ""In creation myths and in the storytelling tradition, women have been repositories and transmitters of culture""). Those interviewed prove eloquent despite Coltelli's soft questioning (""When did you start writing?""; Are you active in women's organizations,"" etc.). They include Gerald Vizenor, who in effect speaks for the others with his opening remark, ""You can't understand the world without telling a story""; Louise Erdrich and Michael Dorris, who dwell on the intensely collaborative process whereby they tell their stories; Paula Gunn Allen, who offers some caustic comments about the plight of Native American writers (""The publishing industry is about twenty years behind the reading public""); N. Scott Momaday, who emphasizes traditional American Indian values of place and oral storytelling; and Joy Harjo, Linda Hogan, Simon Ortiz, Wendy Rose, Leslie Marmon Silko, and James Welch. While too kind an interviewer to probe deeply, then, Coltelli does allow this influential group of writers to speak for themselves, providing a useful overview, from the inside, of Native American literature.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1990
ISBN: 0803263511
Publisher: Univ. of Nebraska